Galactic Languages in David Brin's Uplift Universe
As usual, this page - analysing language fragments from the
end of some books - contains spoilers.
I am not skilled with languages:
help would be greatly appreciated.
The purpose of this page is an analysis of the Galactic
Languages. More information about the Uplift Universe
can be found at:
These languages are "model languages" - languages created
artificially with some purpose (fiction, logic, communications,
Jeffrey Henning's page dedicated to Model Languages.
The Uplift Storm Trilogy has lots of sentences in translated GalTwo,
from which the grammar can probably be grokked. In
Infinity's Shore (Part Two, Sooners, Rety, p.80s) there
are some untranslated GalTwo:
- a chirping note, with an upward sliding scale, means yes
- a triple upsweep with a shrill note at the end was
interpreted by Rety as
That's enough resting. Let's go!
The Uplift War has lots of sentences in translated Galactic Three.
In Chapter 38, there are some sounds that escaped the vodor, and are
probably a close representation of this language in human sounds:
...Kah-koo-kee, k'keee! EeeEeEE! k...
...Hisss-s-ss pop *crackle!*...
...Puna bliv't mannennering...
Startide Rising, Chapter 63, has a long dialogue between
Tom Orley and a dying Thennanin. The sentences are:
(Thennanin, from long distance)
Barkeemkleph Annatan P'Klenno. V'hoominph?
and, after a pause
V'hoomin Kent'thoon ph?
Birkech'kleph. V'human ides'k. V'Thennan' kleph ph?
After this, Tom comes close to the Thennanin who begins
the sentence V'hoomin t'barrchit pa... but it continues
with the English translation ... would not kill you, human, etc
The Uplift War, Chapter 9, has some sentences too:
(Kault, talking to chimps)
Natha'kl ghoom'ph? Veraich'sch hooman'vlech! Nittaro K'Anglee!
and Idatess! Nittaril kollunta...
Chapter 51 is probably also Gal 6. (Kault)
Metoh kanmi, b'twuil'ph...
Chapter 82: (Kault) V'hooman'ph? Idatess!
- -ph at the end of a sentence is a question marker
- V'- precedes every species name (hoomin
, human and hooman are accent variations)
- Idatess! marks an imperative
k'chu-non (The Uplift War, Chapter 15) is probably
wolfling in Gal Seven, and k'chu-non krann (Chapter 23) means
In Chapter 18 Uthacalthing curses the Gubru:
In Chapter 27, Fiben counts in Gal Seven: Na... Ka... tcha...
Chapter 42, Athaclena says
W'ith-tanna Uthacalthing bellinarri-t'hoo, haoon'nda!...
W'ith-tanna Uthacalthing!, probably meaning he lives
(repeated in Chapter 85)
In Chapter 57, Athaclena curses Robert, in mixed Gal 7 and Anglic:
An... An-thwillathbielna! Naha... You... you blenchuq!
How dare you... Cleth-tnub....
Cleth-tnub must be a very bad word, because Robert didn't know
it and Athaclena doesn't provide a translation
Chapter 72: (Athaclena) Tutsunucann, s'ah brannitsun. A'twillith't...
and, soon after, S'ah brannitsun, tutsunucann!, and, latter,
A t'ith'tuanoo Uthacalthing! A t'ith'tuanine, Mathicluanna!
Chapter 76: (Athaclena) ...N'tah'hoo, Uthacalthing
Chapter 82, Uthacalthing says Puyr'iturumbul! when he senses
Robert getting close
Chapter 91: (Uthacalthing) N'ha s'urustuannu, k'hammin't
Athaclena w'thtanna! probably meaning "Daughter, do you send
these to me, and so return what I had lent you? ..."
Heaven's Reach, Part 1, Rety, p.90 has the translation
of solar sail: ntove tunictun
Uplift War, Chapter 82 includes K'ph mimpher'rrengi, juvenile
delinquent. It's probably in this dialect.
In The Uplift War, Chapter 51, Kault speaks to a
squirrel-like creature in a "highly inflected dialect of
Galactic". Only the English translation is presented:
Know you - sight-sound-image - an essence of destiny, yours?
Little one? Carry you - genes-essence-destiny - the fate of
star-treaders, your descendants?
Infinity's Shore, Part Three, Gillian, p.116s, includes some
fragments in a Thennanin Dialect, in the dialog between Gilliam
and the Library Unit stolen from the Krondorsfire . They are:
Heaven's Reach, Part One, The Five Galaxies, Sara, p.61, has
more of this "eccentric dialect" (that must not be simple,
otherwise Sara, a linguist/mathematician, would undestand it):
- (Gillian)Gr-phmph pltith (probably a greeting) followed
by ("she contined with the ritual greeting")
Fhishmishingul parfful, mph!
- (Library Unit reply)Toftorph-ph parfful.
Fhishfingtumpi parfful, translated by the Niss machine as
"I am prepared to witness. Then I will be available for
I guess Ph'unglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!
must be something in this language :-)
- (Gillian)Gr-tuthuph-manikhochesh, zangish torgh mph.
Translated to Sara as: "We understand that Zang, by nature, dislike
surprise. Tell me how they typically react when one rude shock is
followed by several more."
Page under construction. I have only completed the survey of
Startide Rising and The Uplift War.
requests are welcome
Alberto Monteiro's home page
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